Rockford East alum dedicates garden to victims of sexual assault

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- As the Rockford East class of 2019 prepares to graduate, a member from last year's class returns to her old grounds with a mission.

Vanessa Robles came back to her alma mater Friday to complete a special project to help victims of sexual assault and violence.

Robles wanted a place for surviors of abuse to heal, so she decided to plant a large sunflower garden on school grounds. The project includes a healing pole and reflection space.

"Sunflowers are known for being the happiest flowers on Earth," Robles said "They look toward the sun, and grow toward the light, so that's like my symbolism for looking towards the light in darkness."

Robles says the garden is not only for students and the community, but also for survivors of sexual assault. The idea came from a project she completed on sexual assault last year as a high school senior.